My third daughter just turned 4!! We celebrated with a fabulous Maisy birthday party. She loves the books by Lucy Cousins.
This birthday party was a little trickier for me to plan because my 4 year old loves to play games and do all sorts of organized activities. However, when we had a Christmas party with her friends, it seemed liked all her friends liked to just play with toys and hang out. So I had to come up with activities that were suited for both parties- easy going but clearly defined with no real winners.
Our welcoming activity was playing with play dough on Maisy themed mats. I saw this idea on Pinterest and I loved it! I drew some pictures of Maisy and her friends with some pieces missing. For example, I drew Maisy next to an empty table. Or I drew a big picture of Charlie without eyes, teeth, and arms. The children then had to add in the features with the play dough. You are supposed to put the paper inside plastic sheet protectors (or laminate them) but I couldn't find mine! I ended up just putting the papers out. The kids still played with the papers but the play dough stuck a bit. It still worked but it would have been better with the plastic. If you want to print out pictures to use instead of drawing them, check out this website.
We made our own play dough so everyone could take some home at the end. I ended up using a plastic baggy with a Maisy themed picture taped on for them to take home but you could also use big baby food jars/bins or old Playdoh containers with Maisy pictures taped on too. The play dough recipe I used is pretty basic. I find if you want a good texture, you really have to do the one that cooks over the stove. I'm told ones with more cream of tartar are really nice but I used one that had lots of salt. Here is a recipe like the one I used. If you have someone with a gluten allergy you can always use peanut butter play dough (if peanut allergy try sunflower butter).
We also had some Maisy ears to put on people like headbands but no one seemed to want to wear them except my 7 year old daughter after she came home from school. I don't seem to have much success when it comes to party hats at parties. Do you?
Next we did a train game. I took the idea from the computer game we have of Maisy. I gathered 6 boxes together and lots of stuffed animals. Inside I put a number and one animal. The kids then had to race to each box, see what was inside, then race to the huge pile of stuffed animals to find the right amount and kind. If there were too many or the wrong type of animal, the train could not move forward. If there was not enough, the train tipped over and you start again. This game can be customized per age. If you have a younger audience, try just making the sound of the animal or showing a picture on the outside of the box then they can put in as many as they find. You could also limit the option of animals for each box to three instead of having a huge pile to choose from. You can make it harder by using high numbers and giving a description of the animal or a general type of animal like "Lives in the sea." We had decoy stuffed animals to make it trickier as well. All the decoys ended up in the caboose. Afterwards, we had lots of free play. Some sat in the boxes and pretended to go on a train ride while the others played with all the stuffed animals.
After that we played a hidden puzzle piece game. I drew a big picture of Tallulah then cut it into puzzles pieces (one piece per guest). I then hid the pieces throughout the house. After explaining the game to the children, they took off to find the pieces. With this age group there is still some helping like "Maybe if you look around the front door." After someone finds a piece, he or she goes back to a designated spot and starts putting the pieces together with the others.
Next we had cake! I made a Maisy house this year. I would have liked to print out a picture of Maisy to put in front but ran out of time. The cake was easy to make and I didn't do anything too fancy. I just needed it to look fun enough for my daughter. I ended up making two cakes since my daughter wanted chocolate and vanilla cake. So I staked 5 8x8 sized squares on top of each other then cut the top at an angle so it would look like a roof. Its easier to cut if you can freeze it a little. My freezers were full but my garage worked nicely. When decorating the cake, I always do one first layer of frosting that doesn't really matter on looks, freeze again, then cover with another layer of frosting. The first layer is pretty thin but I find it helps contain the crumbs so you don't see them in the final product. I saved the back half of the house for my daughter to decorate. She loves to help out with decorating cake. It may be because she likes to lick frosting off her fingers though.
Then we played Hide and Go Seek since its a favorite of ours. I always love how at this age, there are really only one or two hiding spots. Its so cute. We had an adult be the designated counter but a child be the finder to ensure fairness.
Presents next then our pinata! I find pinatas help stir children away from the presents that they want to take home and any fighting or sadness that may result from that. I like the pull string/pull open pinatas for this age group (especially since we were all inside the house!). I read about how to make it in Family Fun (only my favorite magazine). You can find the directions here too. I ended up just covering a box we had in butcher paper, cutting a couple of windows and taping pictures of Maisy and her friends inside so it looks like they are waving out a window. I think covering up the bottom with paper (wrapping it like a present) helped keep the loose ribbons in place and covered up any give aways I may have missed. It still popped open easily too since I only used one piece of tape to secure the end of the paper.
Then we just played until it was time to go. My back up games were Bean Bag Toss and Duck, Duck, Goose (but with Maisy characters). We didn't have to use them since this group really just like to hang out and play but I always like to have back ups. Sometimes other games don't work out and I do not want to be left with a 1/2 hour left in the party and no idea what to do!!
All in all, it was a great time. Hooray for birthdays!